Local firefighters face off against brush fires Wednesday

03/26/2014 3:15 PM |
Firefighters battle a brush fire near Grumman Boulevard Wednesday afternoon (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

Firefighters battle a brush fire near Grumman Boulevard Wednesday afternoon (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

Firefighters from the Riverhead, Wading River and Manorville Fire Departments have been battling brush fires throughout the area Wednesday as ideal fire weather conditions and high winds sweep over Long Island.

The National Weather Service has warned that while Tuesday night’s strong coastal storm missed the East End, winds of 20-30 miles per hour with gusts up to 50 mph will persist through the evening. 

With humidity dropping, the sun coming out and little precipitation during the past month, forested areas are “very dry and susceptible to burn and spread,” according to the alert.

“Any fire that would ignite will spread rapidly with these conditions persisting through the early evening,” the warning states. “If residents should spot a fire, please report it to the authorities immediately.”

Those conditions have already lead to several fires nearby.

A brush fire sparked on Grummann Boulevard just east of Line Road about 9:15 a.m., Riverhead Town police said.

Manorville firefighters were the first to arrive on scene and doused the roughly 5-acre fire with the help of volunteers from Ridge and Wading River, said Riverhead assistant fire chief Kevin Brooks. Riverhead Fire Department was also activated to the brush fire, but dismissed before it arrived.

A second, larger brush fire broke out on Eastport Manor Road in Eastport about 1 p.m., authorities said.

Nearly a dozen departments — including Manorville again and Riverhead — responded to the fire, which had consumed stretches along the roadway south of Sunrise Highway.

Riverhead firefighters were called to scene with a fire engine, Mr. Brooks said. RFD public information officer Bill Sanok said the volunteers got there just in time to contain the blaze.

“Had we been there 15 minutes later … the fire would have gone up the side of the house,” he said. “We got there and the backyard was pretty much involved in fire. It was within feet of the house when we got there.”

At about 4:30, a fire started on Grumman Boulevard again, this time near River Road. Riverhead and Manorville firefighters responded to put out the flames.

Brush fires have also been reported in Bellport, Rocky Point and Westhampton, according to news reports and fire dispatch calls.

In Bridgehampton, a school was evacuated when a brush fire crept up to the building and damaged the structure, according to the Southampton Press.

Similar conditions two years ago caused a fire that started on the Brookhaven National Labs property to spiral out of control, burning more than 1,100 acres across Manorville in the seventh-largest wildfire in state history.

While several homes along Schultz Road and Oakwood Driver were burned in the fire that raged for nearly 24 hours, no one was killed.

psquire@timesreview.com